God Is Not Hiding: The Parable of the Disappointed Child

Is God hiding? A friend who is doubting her faith thinks so.

“Why does God hide from us?” she asks. “If knowing and loving him is the whole point of life, why doesn’t he just introduce himself? Why give us a test to see if we will follow him while he pretends he’s not around?”

Here’s a little thought experiment based on her question. Call it “The Parable of the Disappointed Child,” and imagine, if you will, a 12-year-old child sitting in a room full of toys and books, wondering why his parents are so indifferent to him.

First, the Disappointed Child says: “I wish my parents loved me. But they don’t!”

Behind him there is a drawer full of birthday and Christmas cards he has gotten from his parents, and they tell him they love him; but he thinks all that is phony politeness and doesn’t count.

Second, he says “They don’t pay any attention to me. They are too busy to notice anything about me.”

He faces the Mandalorian poster they got him during his Star Wars phase and rests his head against his Kansas City Chiefs blanket and can smell the freshly cleaned sheets his dad put on his bed yesterday.

He keeps going …

“They treat me like a baby, like I can’t handle anything,”he adds, not focusing on his books about wilderness survival, World War II, his favorite novels, and the picture of him at camp, or his crucifix.

“Why are they so mean to me?” he asks, because his dad told him he had to stop playing video games and do his homework.

“They get to do whatever they want but I have to do what they say!” he complains, not hearing the sound of one parent making dinner and the other filling the washing machine.

Then his mother is calling him to dinner. She made fettuccini instead of spaghetti because he prefers fettuccini.

Isn’t it the same with doubters and God though?

God says, “I love you,” over and over, in the Bible and in his emissaries at church. But that doesn’t count for some reason.

God fills the world with beauty and goodness, suited to our precise tastes. But that’s just the way worlds are, we figure (though there is no other world like it that we know of).

God comes to us in the truths we discover in science, history, literature, human interaction and the hard lesson of the cross.

God disciplines us for our good, warning us with his commandments and building bad consequences into wrong actions.

I don’t know what we are expecting, but God isn’t hiding. God is right in front of us with his arms wide open.

We may think he’s hiding — the way a gnat might think a mountain is hiding because all it sees in front of it is a single bush. But God is doing all he can to reveal his infinity to our tiny eyes, and to tell his colossal story — a story that surpasses all time and space — to our tiny minds.

I imagine the Parable of the Disappointed Child ending when his mom comes into the room.

“Honey, didn’t you hear that dinner’s ready?” she asks. She helps him up on his feet, and hugs him, her body meeting his, like Jesus longing for our touch in the Eucharist.

This appeared at Aleteia.

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. His book What Pope Francis Really Said is now available on Audible. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, Hoopes served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.